The Turquoise Coast of Turkey has much to offer, but we limited our explorations to only the places we could reach using the excellent dolmus minibus service from Patara.
First up was the coastal town of Kalkan, about 20 minutes east. Claire had heard a lot about this pretty fishing town and really wanted to visit. We considered basing ourselves there but it lacked a decent beach. The first place we stumbled upon in Kalkan was the weekly market. This was a shock. Patara is a bit like a protective bubble from the tourist masses and we found the tourist masses crammed into the market at Kalkan. Dodgy perfumes and “genuine” Beats by Dre headphones seem to be luring Brits to Kalkan in the hundreds. We joined them for a while, enjoying the sales banter and chuckling at their claims of “genuine product honest” before making our way down the steep hillside towards the waterfront.
That kid tried to charge me £5 for the photo. So I threatened to tell Dr Dre about his little enterprise and he scarpered.
Despite the obvious influx of tourism, Kalkan has some charm, with its white buildings, blue sea and off-shore islands. We walked the streets, had a cold drink, watched people swimming off the tiny rocky beach and ate some delicious food including bread which was more akin to a balloon (no photo, sorry). Then we made the arduous climb back up to the bus station to catch the dolmus.
Next we travelled further east to Kaputas beach, which is about 7km further east from Kalkan. This is really the beach that serves Kalkan, though it too isn’t very large. The beach is impressively hidden in a cove and the climb down from the road is via a lot of steps, but the view is great.
The sand is mostly soft and the beach is “equipped” with some facilities, though had we wanted to stay for more than an hour we would have needed food and drink. We were greeted by a lifeguard from whom we hired a sun umbrella and two mattresses. I say he was a lifeguard only because his swimming shorts had “LIFEGUARD” emblazoned across his arse. I watched him though, and he showed no interest in the swimmers in the sea or the kids hurling themselves from the cliff. Then he re-appeared in shorts that made no occupational claim, thus proving my suspicions.
The sea was great fun as the waves were quite lively. The temperature was in the mid to high 30’s so we, along with most of the other beach goers spent a lot of time in the water cooling off. At one point Claire slipped from my grasp when a wave picked her up. A Turkish chap, who was at the time tentatively making his way out from the shallows, looked up to see Claire hurtling towards him atop a breaking wave. He put his hands out in futile self defence but was then pummelled from his feet and he too joined Claire in the final violent explosion of the wave.
I got the blame for that. Apparently I pushed her or something. But anyway, by that point we had both swallowed a fair amount of sea water and I had sand in my swimming shorts so we retreated to our mattresses.
The wind at Kaputas was quite blustery, which probably explains the waves. As such our umbrella, which fake-lifeguard man had secured by poking it into the loose sand, was going walkabouts. This has potentially disastrous consequences as Kaputas beach on the day in question was really busy. We wanted to be close to the sea so we could watch our belongings as we swam. I can honestly say that I have never been so close to so many other people whilst wearing only one item of clothing.
This is a photo we took after we had climbed back up to the road.
Then I remembered something we had seen in 2011, in Argentina. It was a sign hung outside of a travel agent intended to lure people to the beach. Here it is. Consider yourselves lured.
So in summary, Kaputas beach is a quiet, almost deserted stretch of sand.
The changing rooms on the beach, of which there was two, were grim. In fact we never saw anybody else use them. The used sanitary product on the floor in mine made for some impressive moves as I tried to put my clothes on without going anywhere near the offending item. And Claire’s report on the toilets down on the beach I did not hear, as the very moment she said the word toilets I was more concerned about trying to think where the sewage might be going whilst wishing I had not swallowed so much sea water.
So that was Kaputas. It looks nice, is rather popular, and we recommend that you change into your swimming gear utilising the 1980’s family holiday technique. You know. The one with the towel round your waist and the trying not to fall over.
With two “K” destinations down we moved on to Kas next. This is the next big town along from Kalkan. In fact we only went to Kas to then go on a tour to another place beginning with K, but we saw enough to know that Kas is rather nice. It is not a beach destination, but it has a handsome harbour and a fairly upmarket feel.
In Kas we went in search of a boat tour, which we found extremely easily. As a rule, if you are looking for something, and instead the something you are looking for finds you rather too quickly in the form of a slightly shifty looking young chap dressed in sportswear, it is best to exercise caution. However in this instance we were offered an 8 hour boat tour which met our needs, plus lunch and as much tea as we could stomach, for only £13 each.
Whilst Claire went to get some water from a shop I talked my way on board to make sure the boat was not sinking. It seemed buoyant, not that I am an expert, so we paid up. A mixed bunch joined us, including some old Turkish women, a German family, another Turkish woman who spoke great English and liked to travel and some other people who I simply can’t remember. Soon enough we were under-way, along with about twenty other boats headed out on similar tours.
One interesting thing about Kas is that it has a Greek island just twenty minutes off shore. We passed this island on the way out and then made our way along the coast before stopping for a spot of swimming. There was nothing to look at, though the water was very clear. Then we moved on. At the second stop we swam again before lunch, and here there were a few fish to look at. The fish in turn were probably mesmerised by my incredibly pale body.
Lunch was really good, though I was taken at how greedy the rest of the group were. We waited patiently as the German’s took 3 kofte kebabs each. I counted the contents of the bowl and it was clear there wasn’t enough for everbody to have 2, let alone 3. Being British, and thus way too considerate but ever so cunning, we only took two each, but then the Turkish arm of The Woman’s Institute devoured the rest, leaving the remainder of the crew to embrace vegetarianism. Kebab allocations aside, this was looking like a bargain tour. The lunch was plentiful and the swimming was great and we were yet to see the main attraction.
An hour after lunch we arrived at the ancient city of Simena. However Turkey doesn’t like old names and prefers names beginning with K, so they renamed this place Kalekoy. Whatever the name, this was a city which in the 2nd century AD sunk into the sea after a series of devastating earthquakes. It is more commonly know as the K’Sunken City now.
Along the side of the island one can see the dwellings in ruins and steps, hacked into the ground rock which descend down into the sea. Under the surface we could make out houses and walkways and even tombs. The water is astonishingly clear and the temptation to dive in is almost overwhelming. But sadly, and for good reason, swimming is not allowed.
Across the bay, which was was once a valley, the ancient city emerges again where a small “modern” town is located. This town, the name of which seems to be mystery (the leaflet I had and the guidebook are vague, and the whole place seems to not exist on Google Maps), is charming. As fas as I can deduce you can’t reach it by vehicle, so it may too be an island. As such, the streets are narrows walkways with shops and opportunistic sales people hidden around every corner. Had the temperature not been so high we would have spent more time getting lost.
Of more interest to us though was the Byzantine Crusader Castle which sits atop the hill above the town. We climbed the steps slowly in the vicious heat. At the top there was no shade but a pleasant breeze, which empowered us enough stamina to enjoy the view and take some shots. Enjoy…
Note the submerged buildings in the photograph above. And the theatre hacked into the rock in the photo before.
After descending we were both overheating in the viciously hot sun. So we ate 2 ice creams and I stuck an ice-cold can of diet coke in my shorts. Then we staggered back to the boat.
We arrived at the boat before any other passengers so with some time to kill we swum again. When we arrived we had spotted turtles in the water as they surfaced to take a breath. I had never seen turtles before in the wild and judging by the reaction of our boat mates neither had they. So when Claire spotted a turtle underneath our boat we wasted no time in getting over the side to take a look. I was able to dive down halfway to the bottom, where the turtle was feeding. At which point I realised that the turtle was immense. It wasn’t in the least bit bothered about us loitering around above it, ducking down for a closer look from time to time – probably because it was bigger than me. After 5 minutes it swam off into the deep water leaving me turtally overcome. There is something quite special about a sea creature as majestic as a turtle allowing you to spend a little time in its company. It reminded me of this wonderful day.
Then we started to head home. After another stop for some more swimming our boat started to cough and splutter and then it broke down. Down below we could hear mechanical repairs being undertaken but we just stayed up top sunbathing. But after an hour we were still adrift and heading towards a rocky island. Just in the nick of time our boat came to life but only for long enough to get us away from the island. As is our plan in such circumstances, Claire sunbathed whilst I undertook some important survival steps. First I drank as much water as I could, so that nobody could take it back from me when they realised. Food was an issue as the kitchen was bare aside from the pile of leftovers in the large bin, which was home to a few hundred flies. Then I located the lifejackets. Finally I joined Claire, subtly handed her a bottle of stolen water and then joined her in the sunbathing.
As time went on and the sun dipped close to the horizon, I started to recalculate the value of the tour. Just as I was close to deciding the tour was not an absolute bargain the crew effected some repairs which enabled us to get away from the rocky island we had drifted close to once again. Then we sat and waited as the boat was again repaired, again broke down and then thankfully another boat came to our rescue. By this point I had ascertained that none of the islands or Turkish coastline close by was an option for a swim to freedom and figured Greece was the best option. We witnessed a breathtaking sunset as we were pulled into Kas harbour. By which point our camera had run out of juice.
We arrived back so late that we were concerned that we may have missed the final dolmus back to Patara. We bolted up the hill to the bus station about as twice as fast as anybody has ever walked in Kas to find that we had 45 minutes to spare. So we had a pleasant but rushed meal back in the town and then walked back up the hill twice as fast as anybody has ever walked in Kas.